Who was the First UFC champion from Canada?

  • Many people think Georges St-Pierre was the first Canadian champion
  • But it was Carlos Newton to earn the honor first
  • Canadian MMA hasn't had many champions since
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Canadian flag / Matt McNulty/GettyImages

When most people think of Canadian mixed martial arts, two-division champion and legend of the sport, Georges St-Pierre, comes to mind. Despite being Canada's most recognizable champion, he was not their first. That honor goes to fellow welterweight Carlos Newton.

The black belt in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Japanese Jujitsu made his UFC debut in Mobile, Alabama as a participant in the one-night middleweight tournament at UFC 17 in 1998. Securing a win via triangle choke in his opening bout, Newton then dropped a controversial split decision to eventual Pride two-division champion Dan Henderson.

Newton would spend the next three years fighting mostly in Japan before making his return to the Octagon at UFC 31 to take on the inaugural welterweight champion and mixed martial arts pioneer, Pat Miletich. At the time, Miletich had defended his belt four times and had more than twice the experience of the Canadian. After a back-and-forth first two rounds, Newton was able to secure a bulldog choke as Miletich was working his way back to his feet, cementing himself in history as the first Canadian UFC champion.

Newton's title reign would be short-lived however as he lost the belt in his first title defense to Pat Miletich's protege, Matt Hughes. Newton would get two opportunities to regain the title when he challenged Hughes at UFC 34 and UFC 38, coming up short in both fights.

Carlos Newton was the first Canadian UFC champion, not Georges St-Pierre

Newton would come close in their first bout, as he locked up a triangle that appeared to render the standing Hughes unconscious. As Hughes was falling over he slammed Newton to the canvas knocking him out. The dazed Hughes seemed to regain consciousness when they hit the ground and was able to retain his championship. Although his 14-year mixed martial arts career had its ups and downs, Newton will forever be cemented in Canadian MMA history as their first UFC champion.

Canada would not have another champion until 2006 when St-Pierre regained the welterweight championship by defeating the aforementioned Hughes at UFC 65.

Despite losing the belt in his next fight in one of the greatest upsets in UFC history, GSP would regain his belt and rule the welterweight division for more than five and a half years. After stepping away for almost four years, St-Pierre would return to the UFC and claim the middleweight championship from Michael Bisping at UFC 217.

With St-Pierre leaving an undeniable mark on the UFC, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before Canada was able to claim more UFC championships. Unfortunately, both Rory MacDonald and Felicia Spencer came up short in their bids for UFC gold.

It appeared welterweight, Mike Malott, was on his way to becoming a title challenger before he failed to pass the Neil Magny test. Both 15th ranked flyweight, Jasmine Jasudavicius, and 15th ranked strawweight, Gillian Robertson have come up short in prior attempts to build the momentum to earn a UFC title shot.

As such, the hopes of bringing a UFC championship belt back to the Great White North fall squarely on the shoulders of strawweight and dual Canadian-Mexican citizen, Loopy Godinez. Riding a four-fight win streak with the No. 10 next to her name, Godinez may be one or two great performances away from having that chance.


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